The Working Families Party is a fusion party that can be found in New York and a few other states. Usually allied with Democrats their only threat is that a Democratic candidate cannot claim votes in the WFP column came from conservative voters. When Cuomo vowed and offensive against labor unions, his WFP endorsement seemed to go against the Party platform.
Andrew M. Cuomo will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state's weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor.
Finding out that the WFP had adjusted their own platform to the will of Andrew Cuomo was shocking. The short version is that Cuomo blackmailed the Working Families Party but below the fold I'll follow the full explanation by Celeste Katz to understand how a union hating gubernatorial candidate got the endorsement of a party that is suppose to represent labor.
Did you know that the Working Families Party (or any third party) has to receive 50,000 votes in the governors race this year to be on the ticket in 2012? Not getting those 50,000 (and it was because of Andrew Cuomo) was how the Liberal Party lost a column in New York State and later withered and died.
This is what Cuomo used as leverage to force a People's Party into representing change Cuomo can believe in. Progressive in New York were attempting to change that rule so that the hurdle for a column in the 2012 race would be 50,000 votes in any statewide race.
To reduce some of Mr. Cuomo's leverage over the party, allies of the party in the State Senate on Sunday introduced legislation that would allow the Working Families Party to retain its line if any of its endorsed candidates for statewide office, including for United States Senate or comptroller, won 50,000 votes. But the bill's prospects in the Legislature are uncertain.
Mr. Cuomo has promised to rein in state spending and hold the line on new taxes if he is elected governor. But that agenda clashes with the aims of the Working Families Party, which has advocated for an energetic, expansive public sector and for middle-class property tax relief financed by higher taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers.
As a result, Mr. Cuomo's demands have set off a furious debate within the party coalition, which includes labor powerhouses like Service Employees International Union 1199, the health care workers union, and the United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York City teachers. Some of the party's constituents believe Mr. Cuomo is intent on emasculating their coalition before he arrives in Albany, viewing it as a potential threat to his authority if he becomes governor.
Staying alive with 50,000 votes in any statewide race would have been a big problem for Cuomo's "weak business lobby" while those "well-financed labor unions" must not have been as strong as Cuomo claimed because no laws were changed. The tabloid media fought hard against the change as though the two party keepers of the plutocracy stand above or even for the working families in New York. The Daily News editorial, A mandate for Andrew: Cuomo must reject the Working Families Party ballot line did not want voting cheapened.
The WFP - in cahoots with pliable state Senate Democrats - is trying to jam through a major change in election law that would serve no purpose other than saving its own skin.
Under longstanding statutes, the party's survival depends on garnering 50,000 votes in the governor's race. That seems unlikely if Democratic candidate Cuomo spurns its endorsement, as he must if he aspires to take office with a clear mandate for fiscally responsible change.
The WFP's underhanded plan would substantially lower that bar, so winning 50,000 votes in any statewide race would preserve its ballot status - and its power to make or break politicians.
State Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo is staying far, far away from the controversial Working Families Party line this cycle, his campaign says:"The Working Families Party Convention is this weekend and we will not be submitting Andrew Cuomo's name for the nomination," said Cuomo spokesman Phil Singer. "There are several open issues that need to be considered, including but not limited to an ongoing Federal investigation as well as policy and procedural issues. We will revisit the question in September at which time there will be more information available."
A number of newspapers (including, in the nature of full disclosure, the Daily News, with whose editorial policy I don't have any connection) have pressed Cuomo to reject the WFP line.
Cuomo has, however, accepted the nomination of the Independence Party, which has an operative who is also under investigation related to the fate of money spent on Mayor Bloomberg's 2009 campaign. The operative, John Haggerty, now works for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, who has defended the hire.
At the time while Cuomo was defending the Independence Party being investigated, the investigation that Cuomo used as an excuse was going quite smoothly but with both major parties picking a union busting and worker hating candidate for gov the WFP was in a pickle and Cuomo knew just how to fix them.
Now with the rule change to 50,000 votes in any statewide race, the WFP could continue to exist without endorsing major party candidate in the governors race and then be allowed to maintain Party integrity. Such a foreign word to the major parties. Wouldn't an empty column or a minor party candidate in the governors race getting the WFP slot just suck for the status quo? But those "well-financed labor unions" couldn't change a thing so Cuomo used his power of the 50,000 votes as an ultimatum, Cuomo To WFP: Endorse Me AND Endorse My Agenda.
Andrew Cuomo delivered a blunt message to the Working Families Party this morning that he's not willing to run on their line UNLESS they sign on to his reform agenda.
"I wouldn't accept the nomination unless they support my platform," Cuomo said during an appearance on Albany's Talk 1300 radio station.
Then torn and tattered with the Working Families Party platform muddled through manipulation, the only choice that means survival is endorsing the union busting Democrat.
Apparently choosing between maintaining their resistance to Andrew Cuomo's push for money-saving labor concessions and risking losing their ballot status, the Working Families Party has just announced they'll be nominating Cuomo for governor.
Said a statement from Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor:
"The Working Families Party is proud to announce it will be nominating Andrew Cuomo as our gubernatorial candidate. He's clearly the right leader for New York. We will be fighting for his electoral victory in November and then fight for legislative passage of his New NY Agenda in January.
"While some of our members have differed in the past on some of the specific issues in the New NY Agenda, the Executive Committee unanimously takes this position because we understand and accept Andrew's point that this is a pivotal moment in the history of this state, similar to the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis, when leaders in the labor, civic, business and political arena must put aside their individual agendas for the good of the entire state.
Even if you are totally delusional like Andrew Cuomo and believe that unions are too powerful there is no excuse for blackmailing the Working Families Party into changing their platform and going against what they have stood for since 1998. A spokesman for Rick Lazio made a very valid point "Back-room political dealing in Albany is exactly what New Yorkers are tired of and what Andrew Cuomo has perfected over nearly 30 years in Albany."
There is no excuse but there is a reason behind these back room politics. This whole Democrats in minority talking progress and then having no argument after graduating to the majority gets old fast. Voters could start asking "What if these Third party candidates are not planning to capitulate on every promise once elected?" A Party with integrity represents a threat to Democrats. A Party that actually stands for something can't be allowed by the Democratic machine so Andrew Cuomo took away what the Working Families Party stood for.
This does not make the WFP bad. They are just trying to survive as a fusion Party where voters would be allowed to send a message to Democrats and they were manipulated into choosing a right leaning candidate to survive. Now as New York workers have long known the choice is the Democrat that hates us or the Republican that hates us even more. This time to add insult to injury a vote for Andrew Cuomo is a vote for the survival of the Working Families Party.